Butter Croissants


Do as the French do—start the day with coffee and a croissant.

Roll out and cut dough:

  1. Cut dough in half and chill 1 half, wrapped in plastic wrap. Roll out other half on a lightly floured surface, dusting with flour as necessary and stretching corners to maintain shape, into a 16-inch-by-12-inch rectangle. Brush off excess flour with pastry brush and trim edges with a pizza wheel or sharp knife.
  2. Arrange dough with a short side nearest you. Cut in half horizontally and chill 1 half. Cut remaining half vertically into thirds, forming 3 rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally in half to make 2 triangles, for a total of 6 triangles.

Shape croissants:

  1. Holding short side (side opposite tip) of 1 triangle in one hand, stretch dough, tugging and sliding with other hand toward tip to elongate by about 50 percent.
  2. Return to work surface with short side of triangle nearest you. Beginning with short side, roll up triangle toward tip. (Croissant should overlap 3 times, with tip sticking out from underneath; you may need to stretch dough while rolling.)
  3. Put croissant, tip side down, on a parchment-lined large baking sheet. (Curve ends inward to make a crescent shape if desired.)
  4. Make more croissants with remaining 5 triangles, then with remaining rolled-out dough, arranging them 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Repeat rolling, cutting, and shaping procedures with chilled piece of dough.

Let croissants rise:

  1. Slide each baking sheet into a garbage bag, propping up top of bag with inverted glasses to keep it from touching croissants, and tuck open end under baking sheet.
  2. Let croissants rise until slightly puffy and spongy to the touch, 2 to 2 hours.

Bake croissants:

  1. Adjust oven racks to upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 425ºF.
  2. Remove baking sheets from bags. Spritz inside oven generously with spray bottle and close door. Put croissants in oven, then spritz again before closing door. Reduce temperature to 400ºF and bake 10 minutes without opening door.
  3. Switch position of sheets in oven and rotate sheets 180º, then reduce temperature to 375ºF and bake until croissants are deep golden, about 10 minutes more.

Makes 24 pastries

Cooks’ note: Baked and cooled croissants keep 1 month: First freeze them, uncovered, on baking sheets until firm, then wrap them snugly in foil before returning to freezer. When ready to serve, remove foil and bake (not thawed) on a baking sheet in a 325ºF oven 5 to 10 minutes.

Croissant Dough


It’s important not to try to halve this recipe. When you need only a half recipe of dough, as for the pains au chocolat, use the rest of the dough for a batch of Parma braids or a princess ring. Or make a double recipe of those irresistible chocolate croissants and share them with friends. One batch of this dough is enough for 24 plain croissants, 32 chocolate croissants, 16 Parma braids, or 2 princess rings.

  • 1½ cups whole milk, heated to warm (105°F–110°F)
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast (from two ¼-oz packages)
  • 3¾ to 4½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3 sticks (1½ cups) cold unsalted butter

Make dough:

  1. Stir together warm milk, brown sugar, and yeast in bowl of standing mixer and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If it doesn’t foam, discard and start over.)
  2. Add 3¾ cups flour and salt and mix with dough hook at low speed until dough is smooth and very soft, about 7 minutes.
  3. Transfer dough to a work surface and knead by hand 2 minutes, adding more flour as necessary, a little at a time, to make a soft, slightly sticky dough. Form dough into a roughly 1½-inch-thick rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until cold, about 1 hour.

Prepare and shape butter:

  1. After dough has chilled, arrange sticks of butter horizontally, their sides touching, on a work surface. Pound butter with a rolling pin to soften slightly (butter should be malleable but still cold).
  2. Scrape butter into a block and put on a kitchen towel, then cover with other towel. Pound and roll out on both sides until butter forms a uniform 8-inch-by 5-inch rectangle. Chill, wrapped in towels, while rolling out dough.

Roll out dough:

  1. Unwrap dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface, dusting with flour as necessary and lifting and stretching dough (especially in corners), into a 16- by-10-inch rectangle. Arrange dough with a short side nearest you.
  2. Put butter in center of dough so that long sides of butter are parallel to short sides of dough. Fold as you would a letter: bottom third of dough over butter, then top third down over dough. Brush off excess flour with pastry brush.

Make first “fold”:

  1. Turn dough so a short side is nearest you, then flatten dough slightly by pressing down horizontally with rolling pin across dough at regular intervals, making uniform impressions. Roll out dough into a 15-inch-by-10-inch rectangle, rolling just to but not over ends.
  2. Brush off any excess flour. Fold in thirds like a letter, as above, stretching corners to square off dough, forming a 10-inch-by-5-inch rectangle. (You have completed the first “fold.”) Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, 1 hour.

Make remaining “folds”:

  1. Make 3 more folds in same manner, chilling dough 1 hour after each fold, for a total of 4 folds. (If any butter oozes out while rolling, sprinkle with flour to prevent sticking.)
  2. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill at least 8 hours but no more than 18 (after 18 hours, dough may not rise sufficiently when baked).

Makes about 2¾ pounds

Herbed Lima Bean Hummus


This dip was inspired by a recipe for bissara, a garlicky purée from Egypt made from dried broad beans, in Claudia Roden’s Mediterranean Cookery.

  • 2 10-ounce packages frozen baby lima beans
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed with side of a large knife
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

  1. Simmer beans, onion, garlic, salt, and water in a 3-quart saucepan, covered, until beans are tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in cilantro and parsley and let stand, uncovered, 5 minutes.
  2. Drain bean mixture in a sieve and transfer to a food processor. Add cumin, cayenne, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 4 tablespoons oil, dill, and mint and purée until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper and add lemon juice to taste.
  3. Mound dip in a serving bowl and drizzle with remaining tablespoon oil.

Yield: Makes about 4 cups

Borscht


  • 4 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 14- to 15-oz can beef broth
  • 16-oz jar sliced pickled beets
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  1. Cover potatoes with cold salted water by 1 inch and simmer until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and keep warm.
  2. While potatoes are boiling, sauté carrots, celery, and onion in oil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over high heat, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown.
  3. Add broth and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 13 minutes.
  4. Stir in beets and their brine and simmer, covered, 8 minutes more.
  5. Ladle borscht into bowls and add potatoes.
  6. Top with sour cream and dill.

Yield: Serves 4

Apricot Dipping Sauce


  • ¾ cups apricot jam
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped scallion greens
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or to taste
  • Dash of Tabasco, or to taste
  1. Melt jam in a small saucepan.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients with salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.

Yield: Makes about 2 cups

Cooks’ note: Sauce may be made 2 days ahead, cooled, then chilled, covered. Reheat sauce over low heat, stirring.